(Pictured on home page:
Elijah Smith '04)
February 21, 2001
Contact: Bill Giduz 704/894-2244 or email@example.com
February 21, 2001
Davidson Outdoors "released" a herd of 20 new bicycles on campus on Tuesday, making them available to anyone, anytime, who needs wheels. Eager riders ceremonially paraded the new "cruiser" style, single-speed bikes in front of Chambers Building before students began pedaling them off toward dorms, athletic facilities, the library, and other destinations.
The bikes are available for use by students, faculty, and staff wherever they can be found, and they can be left anywhere on campus at the end of a ride. People riding them off-campus for errands are requested to ride them back onto college property before abandoning them.
The program refines the community "Red Bike" program which Davidson Outdoors initiated 15 months ago. At that time the organization refurbished about ten donated mountain bikes, painted them red, and released them. However, the complexity of gears and brakes, along with some hard riding, caused near-constant maintenance problems.
Rob McKeehan, a student assistant at Davidson Outdoors, and Bobby Pittinger, representing the Student Government Association, discussed the situation and decided that simpler, sturdier bikes would provide better service to the campus. The two seniors solicited financial support from campus organizations, and eventually raised the $4,000 necessary to launch a new fleet.
The Torker brand bicycles are numbered and fitted with a placard explaining the community bike program. Five are "skirt" bikes with a low bar between the rear and front assemblies, and fifteen are "pants" bikes with a higher bar. All are equipped with a quick-release seat post for seat height adjustment, and each includes a lock that students are urged to use when taking the bikes off campus.
Decals on each bike credit their financial sponsors. A donation from the SGA purchased 10 bikes, the president's office purchased five, the dean of students office purchased three, and the Class of 2001 and the Class of 2002 purchased one each.
"A lot of people have 'stock' in the program," said McKeehan, "and I think that will help make it successful."
Many other communities worldwide have initiated similar programs. In 1995 the city of Copenhagen, Denmark, loosed 1,000 free-ride bikes in its inner city. Denver, Portland, Olympia and other cities and campuses in the American West also have bike programs, each with its own local spin. And while Davidson's bikes are red, other programs have chosen a rainbow of colors. In Seattle it's yellow, in Olympia it's pink, Copenhagen has white bikes, and Denver has "checker bikes." For more information on free bike programs, visit http://www.ibike.org/freebike.htm.
Davidson is a highly selective independent liberal arts college for 1,600 students. Since its establishment in 1837, the college has graduated 23 Rhodes Scholars and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report magazine. Davidson recently launched "Let Learning Be Cherished," a $250 million campaign in support of student financial assistance, academic resources, and community life.